Fitness & Nutrition

Should You Hire an Online Personal Trainer?

Should You Hire an Online Personal Trainer?

It depends on your answers to these five questions.

For many women, the prospect of working with a personal trainer is pretty attractive: customized programming, expert coaching, zero guesswork, and cheers through every rep and set. But the truth is that not everyone has the time or money to spend on working with a coach one-on-one.
Fortunately, more trainers are now offering their services through Skype, email, and online training!—with a bunch of other trainers hosting online group fitness challenges through closed Facebook groups. Chances are, you’re following at least one online trainer on Instagram right now.
But should you double tap to get fit? Short answer: It depends. After all, as a personal trainer, I work with some women in-person and others online. I even train some through a mix of the two, coaching them in the gym once or twice a week while also giving them customized online programs that they can follow at home in between gym sessions. Every woman has different wants and needs, and a unique workout personality—so what works for one woman might not for the next.
To figure out the right fit for you, and if you should take the virtual plunge, consider these five simple questions.
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1. What do you want to pay?
Perhaps the biggest selling point for online training is cost. “The average trainer may charge around $70 to $100 for an hour-long training session, whereas if you buy a six-, eight-, or 10-week [online] program, you’re paying anywhere from $100 to $200, depending on the coach,” Baltimore-based personal trainer Erica Suter, C.S.C.S., who trains clients both in-person and online, tells us. “Either way, it is much more cost-effective to have someone write you a customized program and for you to execute it on your own.”
The cost of participating in an online group fitness challenge typically ranges from anywhere from free to $100 per month.
2. How much instruction do you need?
When your trainer is in the gym with you, checking you out from every angle and giving you real-time feedback…well, that’s a level of instruction you just can’t get from online training, online strength coach and exercise physiologist Mike T. Nelson, Ph.D., C.S.C.S.,
“From a technique aspect, online training is definitely better for people who already have some exposure to exercise and form,” he says. “If someone is relatively new to training, I will tell them to go to the gym with a friend and to have that person take videos of them performing each prescribed exercise from different angles.” This helps the trainer identify any trouble spots and figure out what coaching modifications need to be made due to poor ankle mobility, wobbly knees, or other issues.
What’s more, many online trainers shoot and share exercise instructional videos to help coach safe and effective technique. “Some online coaches do a stellar job of instructing their clients from a distance,” Suter says. “Be sure to search for an online coach who cares and checks in with your progress, as well as tweaks your program based on your needs as you go.”

The nature of group challenges typically allows for even less oversight. “Challenges lack the ability for total customization,” Davis explains. “So while I do my best to offer modifications and progressions, there will be exercises that are just not totally suited well for some and they may have to skip an exercise. It also does not allow for guidance while you work out to make sure you are working out efficiently and in good form. However, if someone has a question about form and posts a video, I will always critique it.”

That said, some women have enough exercise experience to feel confident exercising on their own, and honestly don’t want a trainer watching every workout. For those women, spending money on exercise cueing they don’t need is unnecessary.
3. What trainers are available in your area?
“One benefit of online training is that you aren’t limited by geography,” Nelson says. “You can train with anyone you want in the world. Finding someone online who specializes in what you need is far easier than finding the same credentials within a 30-mile radius of your house.”

This tends to hold the most true for women living in small towns with a limited number of gym-affiliated or independent personal trainers. Consider if you need pre- or post-partum training, have any other health conditions or past body image issues your trainer will need to fully understand and take into account, or if you’re just really jazzed about working with someone whose work you have followed for years.
4. What motivates you?
Some people need the accountability and encouragement that comes with meeting with a trainer in person three times per week, Davis says. Others would rather revel in their time alone in the gym, and get all of the motivation they need from weekly check-ins with an online trainer. Still others want to get their motivation not just from their trainer, but also from other likeminded women who are going through similar fitness journeys—which is where online group challenges really shine.
Your needs and preferences are crucial when deciding how to train. After all, if you don’t complete your workouts, it doesn’t matter how expertly crafted they are. “You know yourself best,” Davis says. She recommends being honest with yourself about what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past.

5. How packed is your day-to-day schedule?
Online trainers can create workouts designed to perform at home, in the gym, or even outside. That way, you can perform them whenever, wherever, and aren’t locked into working out according to your trainer’s or gym’s schedule.
“This flexibility is great for busy moms and students or anyone who has an unpredictable schedule,” Davis says. After all, many personal trainers charge clients for last-minute cancellations.

Here’s how to find the right online trainer for you:
If you decide to opt for some form of online training, the first thing to look for is a trainer’s qualifications.

“Before hiring an online trainer, be sure to check their education, experience, certification, and reviews,” Suter says. “Too often, people hire online trainers based on how many followers they have, instead of the actual work they’ve done for people. There are plenty of charlatans in the industry who do not have the necessary qualifications. As an example, if you’re looking to be strong during pregnancy, it’s in your best interest to find an online coach who has worked with a plethora of moms, and not a fitness celebrity who only posts selfies.”

Look for certifications from large reputable organizations such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Council on Exercise, National Strength and Conditioning Association, National Academy of Sports Medicine or the Athletics and Fitness Association of America. If you can’t find a trainer’s credentials online, don’t be afraid to ask for them. “Any professional that has studied their butts off for certifications will be happy to send a screenshot of every single one of them,” Davis says.

All qualifications aside, ask questions such as, “How accessible will you be throughout the program?” “How will you customize my routine to fit my needs?’” and “How many clients do you have?” “These are important questions to ensure you aren’t just another person with a cookie-cutter program that is blasted out to the masses,” Suter says.

To start your search, consider asking for referrals from your friends, family members, or even your doctor. Check into any trainers whose blogs, articles, or workouts you already enjoy and have found useful. You can also run searches through nsca.com and acefitness.org, and verify certifications through nasm.org.
“Send messages to many,” Davis says. “Don’t stop until you’ve found someone who you truly ‘jive’ with and who fits your unique needs. It’s worth it.”

 


Small Changes produces BIG Results!

Small Changes produces BIG Results!

Our approach to exercise continues to surprise people who think they know what it takes to reach and thrive at a healthy weight. They see ads on television for fancy new exercise equipment and for gym memberships and they have a neighbor down the street does a lot of swinging sledge hammers and flipping tires. That we have found to be most effective—from the medical literature and from our years of experience in the field—runs counter to what the fitness industry might have you believe.

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In our program, the path to meaningful, lasting weight loss does not begin with a daunting workout routine. In fact, the results of that approach are the exact opposite of what we would want: Most people cannot sustain the rapid, extreme change from being mostly sedentary to suddenly adopting an intense exercise schedule. They try the new program for a few weeks and then tend to revert back into their old Habits of Disease.

Formal exercise programs are an important part of optimal wellbeing (just to be clear), but they are not the only Habit of Healthy Motion, nor are they the most effective starting point.

Our system encourages people to increase their activity levels outside of the gym first: More walking, more standing instead of sitting, more doing household chores by hand, more moving to the music of your favorite songs. Your daily life is full of opportunities to burn more calories! Our Personalized Fitness system is a more accessible—and therefore more sustainable—first step toward optimal wellbeing for the vast majority of people who are frustrated with their health.

Simply being less sedentary is a huge win for your longevity, and the science continues to confirm that. For example, a recent study found spending 30 minutes a day walking instead of sitting could mean a reduced chance (by as much as 24% in this small study) of cardiovascular disease as well as a reduced risk of dying from other causes (by as much as 11%).

The study even goes as far as to suggest that the 30 minutes could be broken up into 10-minute chunks, which means you can sprinkle small doses of walking throughout your day.

As you gradually adopt more of our Prationalized Fitness system in your daily life, you can start to add formal workouts as well (talk to your physician and your health coach before you make a significant change in your activity level).

Our ultimate goal is to build new behaviors that you can sustain in the long-term. While a small change like walking more might not seem as significant as being in the gym for an hour, it’s a powerful shift in your activity. That movement in itself produces clear rewards—and the research agrees—and it sets the stage for lasting, vibrant change in your future.


The Key to Longevity: Movement

The Key to Longevity: Movement

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As we continue to learn from the latest research and from our rapidly growing work in the field, one of the clearest lessons—and there are several—is creating an active lifestyle which is essential. The more sedentary our lives become, the less positive our longevity outlook becomes.

Something as seemingly benign as sitting for long periods can impact your health, but that research has continued to evolve since then. You see, we know that as we age our bodies are likely to lose muscle mass, especially if we aren’t actively trying to maintain and build muscle strength. The medical term for this is “age-related sarcopenia.”

Losing muscle mass can mean more than limiting your ability to enjoy an active lifestyle. Sarcopenia can weaken your bones, lead to weight gain, and even increase your risk of developing diabetes.

Recent research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that sedentary lifestyles in older adults lead to increased levels of frailty and decreased longevity. In short, the study participants who were most active lived longer and had less weakness and fatigue.

You too can reap the benefits of an active lifestyle, no matter your starting point or your current age. Here’s how to get started creating a Active LifeStyle:

  1. Talk to your physician first. Always talk to an expert before you make a change in your lifestyle to ensure that changes you do make are safe and sustainable.
  1. Start slow. Activities as simple as walking are powerful foundations for creating an Active Lifestyle. Start with short daily walks and gradually add steps as you increase strength and build a routine.
  1. Sit less. Creating an Active Lifestyle occurs outside of a formal exercise program. Making an effort to stand more often throughout your day—on the phone, during chores, and at work—is a great way to build health and burn calories.
  1. Get support. Working with a health coach, having a walking buddy, or going to group fitness classes are great ways to build strong habits. Having encouragement and someone to hold you accountable helps to keep you on track!

The Health Potential of you Smart Phone

The Health Potential of you Smart Phone

Obesity has been the forward march of technology. Our ability to invent new ways to make life easier moves much faster than our bodies can adapt, so we are left with Stone-Age programming in an advanced world. We don’t have to work as hard to feed ourselves each day as our ancestors did, and spending almost an entire day seated at a desk or on a couch is completely normal for much of the developed world.

This has been a consistent theme of Personalized Fitness & Nutrition Coaching—understanding how our programming differs from the world around us so that we can find ways to reintroduce healthy behaviors into our lives—but technology is not all bad. As much as I wish that we would all spend less time in front of our screens, there is no denying that the phones we keep within arm’s reach have a lot of potential for good.

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Here are some ideas for how you can use your smartphone to help with your health:

  1. Filter out blue light. We have known for some time that the light emitted from our screens disrupts our circadian rhythms, making it difficult for us to fall asleep at night. While you should still honor a digital sunset (turning your phone off at least an hour before bed), you could also benefit from downloading an app that filters out the intensity of blue light, transitioning your phone to a much less jarring red-hue as you wind-down for sleep.
  1. Use reminders to reinforce habits. Whether you use a high-powered task app or simply take advantage of your phone’s alarm function, setting reminders for even fundamental habits like your regular meals or stopping to meditate/pray can help to pull you out of the momentum of your day. When you are caught up in the rush of daily life, a simple alert can go a long way.
  1. Customize your notification preferences. Many smartphone users never go beyond the basic settings of their devices, but for most smartphones you can tailor much of how your phone works to your own tastes and needs. For example, late evening notifications and pop-ups can quickly inject stress and distractions into your routine, so consider setting your phone to only display email alerts during work hours and perhaps get more selective about your notifications in general—turn most of them completely off, if you can.
  1. Turbocharge your brain. Since your phone is with you during your commutes and your daily walks, use that time to exercise your mind. Audiobooks are easier than ever to access and download, and podcasts (which are like on-demand, downloadable radio shows) are not only free but cover a wide range of topics. You could enjoy some fiction or learn something new, challenging your brain to synthesize new information and to be more engaged.
  1. Clean up your social media influences. Social media can become an addiction, but it can also be a tool for staying connected to worthwhile communities. While I still believe you should limit your daily social media time, when you are online, be selective about what voices and people influence you. You don’t have to block your negative uncle, but maybe turn off alerts for when he posts something new. And when you follow new people or groups, try to limit yourself to those who are upbeat and whose activity supports your optimal health journey.
  2.  Tools like Apple Health are powerful data collectors, and many people enjoy the novelty of seeing their own health data pile up, but that novelty often wears off. Health apps today do not have the behavior and community support that we know—from research and years in the field—is necessary for creating lasting change. That does not mean you can’t have fun with health apps, just don’t expect them to be silver bullets..

 


Can cashews help control cholesterol?

Can cashews help control cholesterol?

%image_alt%Many Americans struggle with high cholesterol, which puts them at risk for atherosclerosis, stroke or heart attack. Sometimes high cholesterol is due to eating the wrong foods, and sometimes it’s genetic, also known as “familial hypercholesterolemia”. Only 1/500 people have the familial form, so most often diet is to blame. Fortunately, an abundance of research shows that lifestyle and dietary adjustments can effectively control cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease, especially when combined with moderate, regular exercise.
If you’re interested in making lifestyle changes that will help lower cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease, I always suggest starting with the basics. Food is the foundation of our daily health, so my recommendation is to eat a whole food-based diet, packed with plenty of colorful vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and legumes. If you want. you can still eat meat, as long as it’s in small portions and isn’t fried, plus you can experiment with meat substitutes like tofu and tempeh.

When planning your heart healthy diet, keep in mind that not all fats are “bad” and fat shouldn’t be eliminated entirely. In fact, there are certain types of fats which most Americans need more of, such as omega 3 fatty acids, which are best sourced from salmon and sardines. Other super- healthy, but naturally high-fat foods to add to a heart healthy diet include avocadoes, nuts, seeds, and coconut. Today I’d like to discuss the health benefits of nuts and a new research study about cashews.

Nuts, specifically “tree nuts” (which excludes peanuts) are indeed high in fat, but it’s the healthy, unsaturated kind of fat. Each nut offers its own specific benefits, but as a general rule, they are all high in healthy fats, fiber, sterols, vitamins, and minerals. Raw nuts offer the best health benefits, especially those without extra added salt. You can be creative and add nuts to a salad, a casserole, a stir fry, or simply use a nut spread on whole grain toast. If you’re hungry in-between meals, nuts are an excellent substitute for a simple carbohydrate or high sugar snack. They taste great, are filling and don’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Seeds such as pumpkin seed and sunflower seeds also offer similar benefits.

A recent published study examined the health benefits of cashews. As the study mentions, this is notable because although cashews are the third most-consumed nuts in the US, they are rarely recommended as an option to lower cholesterol. This is because they have higher levels of a saturated fat called stearic acid, so don’t meet the FDA definition of a heart-healthy nut. However, the reality is that stearic acid doesn’t actually raise cholesterol, so maybe cashews have been dismissed too quickly?

This new research study helps support the theory that cashews really do fit in with other heart healthy nuts. In this study, the men and women who participated added cashews to their regular diet for 28 days, and tested their LDL, HDL and total cholesterol before and after that time frame. In the second part of the test, they replaced the cashews with potato chips for another 28 days and ran the same tests. It was found that the cashews significantly improved LDL and total cholesterol levels after just 28 days. There were no significant differences in HDL and triglycerides for either cashews or potato chips.

It’s doubtful that nuts can single-handedly normalize high cholesterol levels; but they certainly can be an important part of a healthy diet and regular exercise program.

If you are interested in learning about your metabolism how many calories you should have daily to lose or maintain weight contact us by going to home page and filling out and submitting the form at the bottom of the page!

REFERENCE:
Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 May;105(5):1070-1078. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.150037. Epub 2017 Mar 29


All About Vitamins - For Better Nutrition And Life!

All About Vitamins – For Better Nutrition And Life!

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For those who want to find out more about vitamins, it can be confusing, especially when you are trying to figure out the right type of supplements that one needs to take. In spite of all the times that we have been told, at one point of time or another, that if we ate a nutritionally balanced meal three times a day, then there is no need for dietary supplements or the prerequisite to know about vitamins, but for sure, this just is not realistic in our society.

A great number of us are stressed out everyday, and do not always find the time to eat at all let alone a nutritionally balanced meal (and three of them?!). Vitamins should never be substituted for good nutritional intake. Your body needs fuel to carry out all the tasks you have to attend to in a day. A good diet is comprised of calcium, protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber supplemented by vitamins as required for specific health concerns.

A lot of food items are enriched with vitamins and minerals, such as breads, pastas, and cereals. One can find information regarding vitamins listed on the packaging; this includes the percentage of the daily recommended allowance of each, which will give you a pretty good idea of how much you are getting of a certain vitamin or mineral. Calcium is an important mineral, especially for women, and most sources about vitamins state that women should consume at least 1200-1500 mg of calcium daily. Most calcium supplements only include 30-50% of the recommended daily amounts and must be supplemented by diet intake of other sources, such as cheese, yogurt, milk, and ice cream.   Vitamin D is an important vitamin and is essential to bone health. This is included in some calcium supplements or can be absorbed through the skin via sunlight. However; for people living in northern states, or for the elderly, this is not always an option, therefore a vitamin supplement is the answer.

If you are really interested in taking care of yourself, then part of it lies in learning about vitamins and minerals and what our bodies require for optimal health. There are a number of sources that are available to you to learn more about vitamins and how certain vitamin deficiencies and excess intake can be harmful to your health. Every person needs to take an active role in one’s health, be familiar about vitamins in one’s cabinet, and also in finding the vitamin that is right for you. Additionally to searching on the web, you can find loads of information about vitamins in various health publications, or you can even consult a nutritionist or naturopathic physician for advice about vitamins and supplements, and how you can implement them into your diet. All the best to your good health!

If you are ready to no ONLY improve your body but improve your LIFE..  Join us!
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o you take vitamins?  If so comment below with what you take and what name brand!


10 Tips to Fuel Up Right for Your Workout

10 Tips to Fuel Up Right for Your Workout

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Summer is just around the corner. Kudos to all of you who stuck with your exercise resolutions! A key to keeping your energy levels up before, during, and after exercising is what you eat, your pre-game and post-game strategy if you will. To help you power through your exercise routines and put your healthiest food forward check out these ten quick and simple tips!

Pre-Game

1. Focus on high carbs and moderate protein about 90-120 minutes before your workout.

Meals should be high in complex carbs (think whole grains), have some protein, and below in fat. Aim to eat your pre-workout meal about 2 hours before exercising so you’ve got the fuel you need without any side cramps. The meal should contain about 300-500 calories. Think: chicken/ham/tuna sandwich, chicken and pasta, boiled eggs and rice, whole grain cereal, or a bowl of oatmeal.

2. Don’t go crazy on the fiber before your workout.

High fiber can upset stomach while exercising. Say “bye bye” to stomach aches by avoiding large servings of food, especially high fiber foods, before exercising. Some fiber with every meal is ok, especially if it’s veggies.

3. Limit high fat foods 2 hours before your workout.

Note – fats take a long time to digest! Step away from fried foods, pizza, etc as a pre-workout snack. Some fats are okay, like some avocado or peanut butter toast.

4. Be smart, don’t go hungry!

You’ll just feel lethargic during the entire workout. Eating a snack before exercising doesn’t defeat the purpose exercising, promise! If you don’t eat at all, you run the risk of breaking down muscle which can stress your body out during exercise.

5. Have only 30 minutes before a workout? Grab a snack!

Sometimes have a pre-workout snack 2 hours beforehand just doesn’t workout. See tip #4, don’t go hungry! Instead, grab a quick 50-100 calorie snack for a quick burst of energy. Choose mostly fast-digesting carbs like fruit (think oranges, bananas, apples, raisins), a granola bar, or some crackers and you are good to go.

In the heat of it

6. Stay hydrated during your workout.

Can’t emphasize this enough, drink water! During a workout, drink ¼-½ cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes throughout your training session. In warm weather, you sweat more so you likely need to drink more. If you are exercising for more than 60 minutes, switch to a sports drinks like Gatorade/Powerade to help replace electrolytes and carbohydrates.

Post-game

7. Focus on high carb and protein post-workout.

Looking for the secret formula for refueling after your workout? An ideal post-workout meal is a blend of carbs and protein. The basic rule: Aim for 50 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein within 1 hour of finishing your workout to begin the recovery process (for your muscles).

8. Limit foods high in fiber and fat within 2 hours of your workout.

These foods will just upset your stomach. Plus fats slow down the absorption of the protein and carbs. Fiber and healthy fats (think fish, nuts, olive oil, peanut butter) are an important part of a balanced diet so be sure to include healthy sources of fat and fiber in your other meals and snacks throughout the day.

9. Recovery on the go? Focus on protein!

Don’t have time for a full meal after you exercise? Try protein bars or shakes instead. One of my favorite go-to options is Greek yogurt. It makes a great healthy snack that can be eaten on its own or used as the base for smoothies.

10. Just say “YES!” to chocolate milk.

Yes, you read that correctly, I said chocolate milk! Chocolate milk provides the perfect ratio of 4 grams of carbs to 1 gram of protein, which is optimal for post-workout muscle recovery.


Nutrition Rx for Injury and Rehab

Nutrition Rx for Injury and Rehab

Nutrition Rx for Injury and Rehab

 

Nutrition plays an essential role during an athlete’s rehabilitation period, especially for wound healing.  The key nutrients involved in wound healing include protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and a variety of vitamins, and minerals.  If one of these nutrients is lacking in the athlete’s diet, delayed wound healing may result, thereby postponing the athlete’s return to training and/or competition.

Three important nutrition points to practice when recovering from an injury include the following:

1.       Do not over-indulge or excessively calorie-restrict. During the rehabilitation period, an athlete’s daily caloric needs are less than what they were prior to the injury, due to a decrease in energy expenditure or fitness level.  If the athlete does not compensate for this decrease, weight gain may result in the form of fat tissue.  Extra body fat places additional stress on the injured joints and will impede upon the athletes’ sports performance.  On the other hand, some athletes aggressively restrict their caloric intake in fear of gaining weight.  This is more detrimental to the athlete than overeating, because calorie-restriction deprives the body of nutrients, especially protein, a catalyst in the healing process.

2.       Incorporate the “powerhouse foods” into your meal plan.    *Protein Protein is one of the most important nutrients for wound healing and plays several key roles for the body such as repairing tissue, fighting infection, and performing regulatory functions.  The BEST absorbed proteins are the high biological value (HBV) proteins, which are derived from animals, with the exception of soy, and include lean meats, poultry without the skin, fish, shellfish, dairy products, and eggs.  The lower biological value (LBV) proteins are derived from plants and are not as well absorbed by the body.  These include grains, vegetables, legumes, beans, and lentils. *Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred and cleanest fuel source.  The athlete needs to eat adequate amounts of carbohydrates so that protein can do its job.  The bulk of carbohydrates in the diet should come from whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, and lentils.

*Essential fatty acids, otherwise known as omega-3’s and omega-6’s, are required for normal growth and the maintenance of cell membranes, healthy arteries, and nerve tissue.  Since the body cannot make these types of fats on its own, they must be obtained from food.  Omega 3’s are found in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, and herring, as well as in green leafy vegetables, nuts, canola oil, and tofu.  Omega-6’s are found in vegetable oils, which are hidden in the majority of pre-packaged or pre-prepared foods.  The goal is to eat more omega 3’s than omega’6’s.

*Calcium If calcium intake is insufficient, the healing process will be impaired, placing the athlete at an increase risk for weakened bones and stress fractures.  Calcium is found in dairy products and green leafy vegetables.  When choosing dairy, choose non-fat or low-fat.

*Beta Carotene and Vitamin A Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body and enhances the inflammatory response, stimulates cell formation, and supports the immune system.  Beta-carotene is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, cantaloupe, broccoli, and dark leafy greens.  Vitamin A is found in liver, egg yolks, whole milk, and orange and yellow vegetables.

*Vitamin C aids in the synthesis of collagen formation, a core component of scar tissue and is found in citrus fruits and juices, peppers, cabbage, kiwi, cantaloupe, and leafy greens.

*B Vitamins The athletes’ B vitamin needs are increased due to an elevated metabolism as a result of the healing process.  A few of these B vitamins include B1 or thiamin found in brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, bran, whole grains, and organ meats; B2 or riboflavin found in milk, eggs, lean meats, and broccoli; B3 or niacin found in lean meats, liver, poultry, fish, peanuts, and wheat germ; B12 found in meats, dairy products, eggs, liver, and fish; and folic acid or folate found in fortified breakfast cereals, green leafy vegetables, and liver.

3.       Supplement as needed. In addition to eating a diet consisting of the “powerhouse foods,” athletes may wish to supplement their diets with the following for insurance purposes.  Remember to always check with a physician before taking supplements. -A daily antioxidant multiple containing 100% of the daily values for vitamins and minerals -Calcium: 1000-1500 mg / day from food and supplements -Vitamin C: 100 mg two times / day -Zinc: 25 mg / day -Vitamin E: 200-400 IU / day of the natural form (d-tocopherol) Athletes who consistently push themselves hard during training and competition are at an increase risk for injury and therefore must endure the rehabilitation period.  For this reason, it is imperative that athletes pay as close attention, if not more, to their diets as they do to their fitness and training programs.  Many athletes strive for that perfect physique while not practicing healthful eating habits and behaviors.  Following an optimal sports diet minimizes the length of rehab and moreover, decreases an athlete’s risk of injury in the first place.

The following is a recipe containing many of the “powerhouse foods,” which is ideal for not only injury and rehab, but for sports performance as well. Barth’s Powerhouse Formula Ingredients ¾ cup frozen, unsweetened mixed berries 4 oz low-fat mixed berry yogurt 1 T whey protein (or the equivalent to 15 grams of protein) 1 T honey 1 T flax seeds, ground or flax seed oil ½ cup low-fat (1%) milk ½ cup calcium-fortified orange juice Ice cubes as desired Directions Blend first 7 ingredients together until smooth.  Add ice cubes as desired.

Yields: 1 serving Nutritional Information Calories: 480 Carbohydrates: 68 grams (57%)  Protein: 28 grams (23%) Fat: 10 grams (20%)   References: 1.  Kleiner, SM.  Power Eating 2nd ed. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics; 2001. 2.  Rosenbloom C.  Sports Nutrition A Guide for the Professional Working with Active People 3rd ed.  Chicago Ill:  American Dietetic Association. 2000.

-SportExcel Health and Human Performance, Chrissy Barth, RD, CFT


Finding the Best Yoga Class for You

Finding the Best Yoga Class for You

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Gyms, fitness studios, health clubs and wellness centers around the world are adding yoga classes to their schedules, but how do you find the right class for you? Yoga styles today range from very gentle and meditative to vigorous and technically demanding, says Mara Carrico, the San Diego, California, based author of Yoga Journal’s Yoga Basics—The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Yoga for a Lifetime of Health and Fitness.

Selecting a class that fits your goals, physical condition and fitness level is very important. Carrico offers these 10 tips for finding a safe, effective yoga class to include in your workout:

1. Determine Your Goals. Potential health and fitness benefits of yoga include strength, flexibility, balance and improved breathing and posture. However, yoga is also an internally focused exercise that may help you calm your mind and increase your concentration skills. You may want to explore yoga as a philosophy, meditative practice or spiritual discipline. Understanding your objectives and level of interest will help you find the right program.

2. Consider the Different Types of Yoga Available. The physical component of yoga—called hatha yoga—consists of poses and breathing techniques that prepare the body for stillness, creating physical strength and stamina, while allowing the mind to remain calm. There are numerous styles of hatha yoga. For example, Ashtanga (power) yoga is very vigorous, with moves and postures similar to acrobatics; this style is not recommended for beginners. Iyengar is a detailed, technically demanding style of yoga that challenges participants to perform postures with great precision. Viniyoga, Kripalu and Ananda yoga are less detailed in technique and more suited to novices looking for stretching and relaxation.

3. Consider How and Where You Want to Take Yoga. If your goals are primarily fitness related, you may want to take yoga at a fitness facility. For more in-depth training from master teachers, look for an ashram, an academy or a studio that is dedicated entirely to yoga. If you prefer individualized attention, you may want to study with a yoga coach or yoga-trained personal trainer.

4. Consider Your Physical Limitations. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new fitness program. Most educated, experienced yoga instructors are sensitive to their students’ physical limitations and knowledgeable of the contraindications that might be applicable. However, you also need to recognize that your physical condition should influence the type of yoga you choose to practice. For example, if you have sciatica, you should avoid forward bends and intense hamstring stretches. If you are pregnant or have high blood pressure, ear congestion or eye problems, you should avoid holding your breath or doing inverted poses, such as shoulder stands and headstands. Problems with your neck, shoulders, wrists, knees, back, feet or ankles may also require modified techniques. Fully inform your instructor of any physical problems you have.

5. Find Out About Your Instructor’s Experience and Credentials. Ask your instructor about his or her yoga training and teaching experience. Many different certifications are available. Your teacher’s education and experience should demonstrate a commitment to safety, professionalism and ongoing education.

6. Ask Lots of Questions in Advance. Before beginning a class, ask the instructor if it is appropriate for you and will help you meet your specific goals.

7. Listen to Your Body. During class, do not force or strain, and remember to breathe. Do not attempt poses that feel uncomfortable or painful.

8. Discuss Your Experience With Your Instructor. Inform your instructor if certain postures or exercises are problematic for you. He or she should be able to offer an explanation and suitable modifications.

9. Try a Variety of Classes. Don’t be reluctant to admit that a certain style of yoga or yoga instruction is not for you. Try as many classes and instructors as necessary.

10. Be Patient With Your Progress. Mastering yoga takes time. Don’t be discouraged if you do not learn as quickly as you would like. The more you practice, the more you will realize the many benefits of this discipline.


5 Ways to get more active outside!

This may not be true for everywhere in the country, but many of us are already seeing signs of spring, which means that we can start to take ourselves back into the great outdoors. Lifting weights or walking on the treadmill are excellent ways to stay fit, but we often see that the most durable habits are tied to something we really enjoy.

That can mean understanding the connection between eating healthier and living longer—so you get more time to spend with the people you love—but it can also be something as simple as having fun. If you enjoy a healthy activity, you’re more likely to stick with it. Some people genuinely enjoy being in the gym, and others need a little bit more of a nudge. For the individuals that struggle with staying active, building on the idea of fun becomes even more important.

So with spring and summer ahead of us, here are five ideas for injecting a little bit more fun as well as the beauty of nature into your exercise routine:

  1. Go on walks with friends (furry ones count too). Exercising is almost always easier with a buddy, and sharing a stroll through a park or down your favorite neighborhood street can help you to stay active, build stronger relationships with the people you care about, and also help you to benefit from the proven benefits of being near nature and exposed to some sunlight.
  2. Join a recreational club or league. The popularity of playing sports just for fun is growing among adults, making it easier than ever to find people to meet and play with. That also means that you are likely able to find a club or league geared toward your age group as well. If you’re worried that you aren’t fit enough for something competitive, that’s okay! Taking half an hour to casually shoot some hoops or taking an afternoon to walk the golf course (leave the golf cart at the club house!) are good places to start.
  3. Take your indoor activities outside just because. Activities like yoga or group meditation are in high demand, and that means people are finding more creative ways to enjoy them. Yoga events in parks in particular are becoming more common, and you could even find something more novel like yoga on paddleboards if you look hard enough. The point is that just because you’re used to doing something inside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it outside as well.
  4. Fall in love with nature. You don’t need to be the ultimate outdoors expert to pick up hiking or kayaking. There are a lot of low-intensity trails and paddle spots that you can take advantage of using minimal equipment. For hiking on a beginner trail, a good pair of shoes and lots of water is all you need! If you aren’t sure where to start, look around for group activity options. A lot of parks and nature conservation organizations coordinate regular group outings that are fun and often educational as well.
  5. Respect the great outdoors. Being active outside can lead to a range of health benefits, but don’t forget to keep your wits about you as well. Use sunscreen, stay hydrated, and avoid doing intense activities during intense heat. While you’re looking out for yourself, look out for nature too. Leave your outdoor adventure spots cleaner than when you found them, and encourage the people around you to do the same.

For me and my family, we try to get outside year-round—skiing in the winter and boating in the summer. We love stepping away from the bustle of our daily lives to enjoy the beautiful places in the world and to spend quality time with each other. I hope that you can find a special outlet like that in your life as well. So start looking!